by Olena

Ground Turkey Pasta Bake

by Olena

4.6 from 10 reviews

Turkey pasta bake in a dish.

Whole grain pasta, fresh kale (or spinach), and ground turkey meat topped with a reasonable amount of mozzarella cheese and baked until golden. This turkey pasta bake is perfect for a fairly quick weeknight meal, leftovers the next day and a meal prep.

In my house, everyone loves pasta with cheese, I bet in yours too. I just knew that I could sneak in a bunch of kale in this turkey pasta bake and nobody would complain. Nutritional powerhouse, kale is full of fiber, iron and antioxidants. I could see how this casserole would be a perfect candidate for going bad box of spinach.

Many people are scared of pasta because of carbs and heavy sauces. Here is my take on it: whole grain pasta made with tomato sauce and a little bit of cheese will not hurt you if eaten in moderation. I mean once in a few weeks 1 – 1.5 cups. Remember, one bad meal won’t make you fat, just like one healthy meal won’t make you skinny.

How to Make Turkey Pasta Casserole

  1. Cook pasta al dente as per package instructions, undercooking by 4 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of pasta water, and set aside. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Preheat large skillet on medium heat and add olive oil. Add onion and garlic, sauté for 2 – 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add ground turkey and cook for another 7 minutes, breaking meat into pieces and stirring occasionally. Drained pasta and meat sauce in a skillet
  3. Add tomato sauce, honey, pasta water, herb seasoning, salt, pepper, kale and stir. Add previously cooked pasta and stir again. Pasta with meat sauce in a skillet and then in baking dish with cheese on top.
  4. Transfer half of the mixture in 9″ x 13″ baking dish and sprinkle with 3/4 cup cheese. Top with remaining mixture and sprinkle with remaining 1 1/4 cups cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes.
  5. Remove foil and broil until cheese is golden brown. Serve hot garnished with parsley if desired. Turkey pasta bake inside and a wooden spoon

Whole grain pasta has more fiber than white pasta that has been stripped of nutrients. Simple carbohydrates like white pasta and rice cause high spikes of insulin thus inhibiting fat storage. I learnt that my body need good carbs to prevent me from overeating other food and thus going over my daily calorie intake. I do not count calories but I know what food I need to eat and when.

This baked ground turkey pasta casserole turned out delicious and juicy. It serves 8 people and you could easily freeze the leftovers. Or assemble the casserole and freeze with plastic wrap on top. When ready to eat, bake from frozen and increase baking time by 15 – 20 minutes.

I remember when I was pregnant, I stocked my freezer with similar casseroles, and they helped a lot once the baby arrived. I hope you and kids enjoy!

Looking for more healthy pasta recipes? Try my one pot taco pasta with pumpkin, healthy pasta with broccoli or slow cooker whole chicken and pasta.

Print

Ground Turkey Pasta Bake

4.6 from 10 reviews

Turkey Pasta Bake is a casserole recipe made healthy with ground turkey, whole wheat pasta, kale or spinach, and tomato sauce.

  • Author: Olena of ifoodreal.com
  • Prep Time: 8 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 48 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x
  • Category: Casserole
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: North American
Scale

Ingredients

  • 3 cups (9 oz) whole wheat penne/fusilli pasta, uncooked
  • 1 tsp olive oil, extra virgin
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 lbs ground turkey
  • 28 oz tomato sauce, low sodium
  • 2 tbsp honey or maple syrup
  • 1 cup pasta water
  • 1 tbsp italian herb seasoning (oregano or basil), dried
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Ground black pepper, to taste
  • 45 cups kale (1 bunch), stems removed & chopped*
  • 2 cups (7 oz) mozzarella cheese, shredded & divided
  • 1/3 cup Italian parsley, chopped

Instructions

  1. Cook pasta al dente as per package instructions, undercooking by 4 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of pasta water, and set aside. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Preheat large skillet on medium heat and add olive oil. Add onion and garlic, sauté for 2 – 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add ground turkey and cook for another 7 minutes, breaking meat into pieces and stirring occasionally.
  3. Add tomato sauce, honey, pasta water, herb seasoning, salt, pepper, kale and stir. Add previously cooked pasta and stir again.
  4. Transfer half of the mixture in 9″ x 13″ baking dish and sprinkle with 3/4 cup cheese. Top with remaining mixture and sprinkle with remaining 1 1/4 cups cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes.
  5. Remove foil and broil until cheese is golden brown. Serve hot garnished with parsley if desired.

Store: Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 days or freeze leftovers for up to 3 months.

Freeze: Assemble, tightly wrap with plastic and then foil, and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight and bake as per instructions + 15 minutes.

Notes

*Spinach can be substituted for kale, especially that going bad in the fridge box staring right at you. When my spinach goes bad, I freeze the box to use later in a casserole recipe like this turkey pasta bake.

 Did you make this recipe? Please give it a star rating in the comments.

olena osipov in the studio

Hello and welcome to iFOODreal.

My name is Olena Osipov. I'm a mom to 2 boys and a wife to Alex. And this is our healthy family recipes blog. I grew up in Ukraine on real food. As an adult, I tried many diets without results. Now for over 10 years, I cook quick and easy healthy meals for my family. I can help you with “What’s for dinner?” too.

What You Will Find Here

Healthy family recipes with simple ingredients. Many are inspired by my Ukrainian heritage. I share mostly dinner recipes because it just never ends... I’m obsessed with healthy freezer meals. And more than in love with my Instant Pot.

A Little More About Me

Originally from Ukraine, I now reside on magic Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada with my family. I started this blog in 2012 when I ended up at home with 2 small kids unemployed and a wee bit chubby.

57 comments on “Ground Turkey Pasta Bake

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  1. What a great recipe. I used chickpea pasta, switched the kale for spinach and added chopped broccoli. I made the bake through step 4 earlier in the day, covered the dish put it in the refrigerator. That evening for dinner I put the dish in the oven let it bake during the salad/soup course (including under a medium boiler for 4 minutes) and served with a side of roasted root vegetables. Easy, delicious and a quick clean up. Thanks so much.

  2. Thanks so much for sharing your recipe! I have a gluten and dairy intolerant family 🙂 so I substituted gluten-free noodles and gluten-free cheese and it turned out lovely!

  3. Wow. Fantastic. This is a keeper recipe for weekly rotation. Substituted kale for spinach. Added chicken sausage to give it a bit more texture. It was very very good.

  4. I loved this casserole! It was fairly easy to put together and very flavorful. I substituted fresh spinach for kale and it wilted down really well. I will definitely be making this again.

  5. Zucchini is 90% water so unless you are ok with that. It is going to be a bit watery. Kale are greens with releasing no water. Also depends how much you use. Maybe dice, salt it and squeeze in a towel to get rid of some moisture.

    1. Great, thank you so much for the feedback! I will leave review and let you know how it comes out 🙂

      Also, thanks so much for your recipes! They have been a huge help for me as I’m learning how to cook healthier, real food for my family. Your recipes are great!!

  6. I love this recipe – so delicious and doesn’t feel heavy. Thank you!

    I wonder about the nutrition information. To calculate calories, how big did you make each serving (9×13 dish makes approx 8 servings, but how big are those)? Thank you for any help with that!

  7. When you transfer the food into the baking dish, there’s quite a lot of liquid. At first I thought I would not include it, but then I thought since there’s so much of it, maybe the recipe needed it to cook properly, so I hoped I guessed right and put it in. When it was ready, there was a lot of liquid in the bottom of the baking dish. It didn’t effect the taste or texture since most of it stayed in the dish and didn’t make it onto our plates, but I still have to wonder if it was necessary to include all the liquid.

    1. Try different brand of tomato sauce next time. Some brands are too watered down which could cause xtra water. I didn’t have that much which nicely incorporated with pasta.

  8. Made with spinach instead of kale…it was delicious!!! My 3.5 year old had 2 bowls. Will definitely be making this again!!

  9. Quick, easy and delicious!! Love the kale in this casserole. I used chickpea pasta and raw cheddar to make a little healthier topped with Parmesan. Cheese…delicious!!

  10. I loved how easy this was to assemble. I also loved that the ingredients were ones I had on hand. I used a red lentil pasta, and using these directions, it came out with the perfect texture. I think that the seasonings were lacking for our taste. We wouldn’t make it again unless we could really figure out a way to zest it up.

  11. This was a hit tonight! Officially requested to be in the dinner rotation! Didn’t change a thing, except used only 1 lb of turkey and forgot to add the pasta water! Oops 🙂 Even still, it was delicious. I added a few dashes of garlic salt before putting it in the baking dish. Thank you for the recipe!

  12. This recipe was fantastic and very delicious. Everyone in my household loved it!
    Great way to incorporate the might Kale:-)
    Thank You!

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